Our nation is in the midst of a massive truck driver shortfall. Estimates vary from source to source, but an anticipated 50,000 or more short- and long-haul trucking jobs are currently open, just waiting for qualified drivers to fill them.
As wages remain stagnant in many other industries, it seems like truck driving, with its relatively high pay, would excite more of an interest. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average trucker pay is around $40,000 per year, or an hourly equivalent of about $19 per hour, about 2.5 times the federal minimum wage. Fleet drivers can make much more, with their average annual income being about $70,000, the equivalent of an hourly wage of $33. Either way, tens of thousands of jobs remain open.
Reasons for not wanting to take trucking positions abound, including:
- The relatively high cost of training programs (which can easily run into the thousands for a month-long course)
- Health concerns
- Being away from family
- Not wanting to live a sedentary lifestyle
- Dealing with myriad state and federal regulations governing the trucking industry (i.e., “red tape”)
- Prior traffic violations that might disqualify someone from getting a commercial driver’s license
These reasons are valid, and they might go a long way toward explaining the current lack of willing applicants for trucking positions in Maryland and around the country. Regardless, the fact remains that the longer there is a trucker shortfall, the more hazardous the job itself – and the roads – become.
When there aren’t enough drivers to move goods across the country, trucking companies (and owner-operator drivers) are more willing to cut corners. This might mean overfilling trucks to get bigger loads through in a single trip. It might mean foregoing mandatory rest breaks and fudging driver logs. It might mean driving while extremely fatigued or while full of caffeine and other stimulants instead of rested and clear-headed.
Any actions that impact drivers – particularly ones that affect the amount of adequate rest they get and the securing of the loads they carry – could prove catastrophic to drivers sharing the road with these massive vehicles, and to the truckers themselves.
If you’ve been hurt on the job as a trucker, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If, on the other hand, you were an innocent fellow motorist injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you, too, might be eligible for compensation.